Deepavali Celebration in the Great Hall of Australian Parliament House
A Report on the Deepavali Celebration in the Great Hall of Australian Parliament House Canberra on Monday 23 November 2015.
By Prakash Mehta, Director Hindu Council of Australia
The Hindu Council of Australia celebrated Deepavali in the Great Hall of the Australian Parliament on 23 November 2015 with support of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha of Australia. This was the 10th celebration of Deepavali in the Australian Parliament and 4th in the Great Hall. The first and second Deepavali celebrations were held in 2004 and 2005 in the Great Hall and others were held in the Committee Rooms within Parliament House except in 2009. In 2009 Deepavali celebration was held in the Great hall together with the 25th anniversary of Navaratri celebration in Canberra, with the support of Gujarati Samaj of ACT.
The BAPS organised the grand Annakut display together with the Deepavali celebration. A number of Indian Associations of Canberra and Sydney supported and participated in the celebration.
Hindu Council of Australia invited all the Members of the Parliament, Diplomats, Community and Faith Leaders to the function.
The program started at 5.45 pm and finished at 8.30 pm. The Masters of Ceremony were Mr Kanti Jinna, Vice Chairman of Hindu Council of Australia, and Mr Santosh Gupta of Canberra Hindi School. The program started with a devotional song (Thal Gaan – Offering food to God) and Annakut Arti. Reverend Pandit Pradeep Bhat conducted the Ganesh Vandana and Deepavali prayers. The Lighting of Ceremonial Lamp was done by Senator The Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Senator Zed Seselja, His Excellency the High Commissioner of India Mr Navdeep Suri, Professor Nihal Agar, the Chairman of the Hindu Council of Australia, Mr Sitesh Bhojani, Trustee BAPS and various faith leaders.
Mr Sitesh Bhojani, spoke about the significance of Annakut (Mountain of Food). Ms Leah Briers, Assistant Secretary, gave a background of the activities of Hindu Council of Australia. The vote of thanks was moved by Mr Prakash Mehta, Director, Hindu Council of Australia.
The program included a number of excellent cultural performances by artists from Canberra and Sydney. The congratulatory and celebratory speeches were made by Professor Nihal Agar, Senator The Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Representing the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Malcolm Turnbull), His Excellency The High Commissioner of India, Mr Navdeep Suri, Mr Bill Shorten (Leader of the Opposition), Senator Zed Seselja, Senator Richard Di Natale (Leader of the Australian Greens), Ms Michelle Rowland MP (Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism and Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications), Hon. Philip Ruddock MP (Special Envoy for Citizenship and Community Engagement) and Senator Ms Lisa Singh (Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Water). The program was attended by several parliamentarians.
A box of refreshments prepared by Hindu Council of Australia and an event show bag containing a box of Annakut Prasad and a Book (Transcendence – My Spiritual Experiences with Pujya Sant Shri Pramukh Swamiji by APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India) by BAPS were provided to each participant. The program was attended by about 600 people, more than the initial expectation and estimation.